For me, nothing signifies the end of summer as poetically and viscerally as seeing pumpkins in a patch. One look at that field and I start salivating for all of my favorite pumpkin dishes.
I love the earthy simplicity of pumpkin pie. And I feel like a pioneer when I wash the seeds that I have taken out of my carved pumpkin and roast them.
For some reason, I became obsessed with baking chocolate pumpkin bread and asked everyone I knew if they had a good recipe. An industry friend gave me a pumpkin muf fin recipe that turned out to be excellent and I adapted it to make pumpkin bread.
When I make this bread closer to Thanksgiving, I add dried cranberries for a seasonal touch, but the bread also is good with the addition of golden raisins and dried cherries.
Pumpkin Bread with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (15 minutes active)
Servings: 2 loaves, 16 slices
3/4 cup granulated sugar?
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
15-ounce can pureed pumpkin
1 1/4 cups walnut oil (not toasted)
3 cups all-purpose flour?
2 teaspoons baking soda?
2 teaspoons baking powder?
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon?
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups lightly toasted walnuts, plus more for decorating the top
1 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat 2 standard loaf pans with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, both sugars, pumpkin and oil until smooth. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and cranberries, if using.
Fill each of the prepared loaf pans about three-quarters full with batter. Drop each on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle additional walnuts over the top of each loaf, using your hand to gently press them into the batter. Place the pans on a baking sheet to make it easier to pull out of the hot oven.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center of each loaf comes out clean. Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing into thick chunks.